On Elvis Costello & The Attractions’ 1980 album, “Get Happy”, there is a track entitled “Clowntime Is Over”. I think we can say with complete confidence that Mr MacManus wasn’t referring to Serie A referees when he wrote that one.
Davide Massa was suspended for his handling of our game against Milan, then we had Paolo Silvio Mazzoleni’s one-eyed masterclass in the derby and talk of Daniele Orsato also being suspended for not knowing how to use a flag. No such luck; Orsato refereed Lazio vs. Fiorentina the following week and found sufficient time to wave his yellow card on eight separate occasions. Then came Nine-Bookings-The-Clown (to use his Native American name) Andrea Gervasoni’s horrorshow in, and ban following, the Sampdoria game. Their last-gasp penalty was laughable enough, but blowing for half-time as they “scored” was embarrassing. We can argue that we have five points fewer than we should have, thanks to these individuals. Five points that would put us in a European place just behind our next opponents, Inter. Ah, another of the “big” teams. Expect we’ll get a raw deal against them on Sunday night, then. No idea as yet which buffoon will be given the whistle.
Actually, Mazzoleni deserves a special mention. Those who remember last year’s outrageous SuperCoppa game in Beijing in which Napoli were robbed by (guess who?) Venaria Town may remember him. Napoli were leading 2-1 after 70 minutes or so, then Mazzoleni sent off two of their players and manager Mazzari and awarded a penalty to the gobbi. There is a Mazzoleni family up in the mountains near Turin who make their living as skiing instructors, so I’m told. Gobbi to a man, they apparently deny being related to this guy. Can’t say I blame them.
***We’re towards the end of the international break (I’m writing this on the morning of Tuesday, October 15th) and I’ve been finding it difficult to raise much enthusiasm for this round of fixtures, but the prospect of Kamil Glik, Jakub Błaszczykowski , Robert Lewandowski et al pissing on England’s chips is an interesting one. Forty years almost to the day since Jan Tomaszewski’s goalkeeping heroics prevented England from going to the World Cup Finals in West Germany in 1974, I’m hoping that the 18,000 Polish fans at Wembley drown out that fucking awful English brass band. There is something endearingly moronic about the supporters of certain English national sports teams: we have the “Barmy Army”, who are a bunch of tone-deaf drunks who detract from any cricketing occasion; we have the meat pie manufacturer-sponsored aforementioned brass band who follow the football team and seem to have a repertoire of three tunes (I use the words “repertoire” and “tunes” advisedly); and we have the smug, white, middle-class rugby union types who see no irony in singing the negro spiritual “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” at Twickenham. Bless ‘em.
I’m expecting a full Stadio Olimpico on Sunday; it was full last time Inter came, and I see no reason for it not to be so this time. Isn’t it strange how the stadium’s full when we play teams from the city of Milan and not when we play our so-called cousins? It would appear to the untrained eye that the Milanisti and Interisti live closer to Turin than the gobbi.
I’m not sure what to expect of the game itself, other than the customary refereeing blunders. With injuries and suspensions, we have no defence at the moment and Inter apparently have problems in attack. That said, with Marcelo Larrondo of the broken foot, Ciro “one goal this season” Immobile and the Meggiorini, one could argue that we have problems in attack, too. The returns of Gazzi and Barreto are better than a poke in the eye, I suppose, but the rumours of Vives playing in defence don’t exactly fill me with confidence.
Milan themselves? Bravo to Philippe Mexès for maintaining his impressive run of petulance in Piemonte. At least this time he hit that shrinking violet and epitome of fair play Giorgio Chiellini, instead of aiming a slap at our Head of Ticketing. As for his club, they were hauled over the coals for their supporters’ alleged racist chanting when they played the gobbi last week. Fined €50k and ordered to play Udinese behind closed doors. Only one slight problem: there was no racist chanting by the Milan supporters. There was no independent, verifiable evidence of racist chanting.
Somehow I can’t imagine Venaria Town being told to play behind closed doors by the (spineless, corrupt, brown-nosing) football authorities in this country, despite their shameful record of racist chanting. I’ve lifted this directly from The Guardian’s “Said & Done” column from October 12th, which they themselves lifted from the Gazzetta dello Sport two days previously, as an example:
“Fabio Cannavaro, revealing why Juventus fans like to aim racist abuse at Mario Balotelli: "It's out of fear, perhaps respect. He has an attitude they don't like, he's strong and opponents are scared of him. That's why they tease him."
So that’s all right, then. Singing “if you jump, Balotelli dies” shows respect. I’ve heard some bullshit in my lifetime...
I’d like to finish on a high note, for once, so... some good news! We’ve won something! According to the aforementioned Gazzetta, we have been voted the best fans in Serie A by the 50 Anonymous Players (whoever they are).We came top with 18% of the vote! Ok, that’s only nine players out of fifty, but a win’s a win!
See you again next week to moan and drip about our loss / to celebrate our victory over Inter (delete as applicable).
P.S.: A former football manager who shall remain nameless once declared that football wasn’t a matter of life-and-death; it was more important than that. I don’t believe this for a moment. However, I have recently discovered that my father has prostate cancer and I’d like to encourage anyone reading this to consider supporting Movember next month. Even if you end up looking like an ageing pornstar for a couple of weeks, as I suspect I will, it’s for a very good cause.
Steve is a season ticket holder who moved to Torino in 2009 after meeting a Torinese lady called Raffaella on Facebook - you can follow Steve on Twitter here.